My favorite reason for doing genealogy are the people you meet along the way. Our little family website has drawn the attention of Tyrolean descendants from all over the world. Sometimes they turn out to be cousins; often they are family genealogists searching for clues to their own ancestry.
Last week I received a wonderful email from Ray Branz who shares our Tyrolean heritage. Ray explained, “Years ago I was traveling through Diamondville, WY and came across the attached story. I do not know the Bazzanella family … but … they left behind a proverb that may bring a smile.”
The name “Branz” immediately rang a bell! Jean Branz Daly is a prolific contributor to the Genetti website (and my first cousin, once removed). Jean’s mother, Erminia Genetti, married Henry Branz and they lived in Freeland, PA. I wondered if Ray was related to Jean’s father’s family.
Since Ray is also a genealogist and has detailed research about his own family tree, he wrote back immediately with the answer. Yes, we had many overlaps in our shared family histories. The Branz family was from the village of Sanzeno in the Val di Non, not far from the Genetti’s ancestral village of Castelfondo. Ray’s great-grandparents, Camillo and Maria Rosa, immigrated to Pennsylvania in the 1890’s, settling in Nuremberg, PA for a short time. They soon moved on to the coal mines of Wyoming. In 1904, the family finally putting down roots in southern Illinois. From Ray’s calculations, he and Jean were indeed distantly related as 6th cousins, once removed through the Branz family.
Since I have Genetti and Marchetti family who lived at the same time and in the same place in Pennsylvania as Ray’s great-grandparents, we are sure our ancestors knew each other. Plus different branches of the Genetti family also worked the mines in Wyoming and Illinois. Since Tyrolean immigrants who shared a common dialect (such as Nones from the Val di Non) often socialized and lived in the same communities, it’s likely that Camillo and Maria Rosa also knew the Genetti families who lived in these states. I always marvel at how truly small the world is!
Below is the original typed copy of the Tyrolean Proverb shared by Ray Branz. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Many thanks Ray. I look forward to future conversations about our shared heritage.
In closing, here’s a quote for everyone who has taken the time to write me during the past two years:
“The best part about genealogy is searching for ancestors and finding friends.” ~ Lawrence Dillard